AZERWEBIsrael manager Eli Gutman conceded their World Cup dream is over after they were held to a disappointing 1-1 home draw by Azerbaijan on Saturday night.

FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group F
Israel 1 Azerbaijan 1
Saturday, 7 September, 2013

Needing to beat the minnows to stand any realistic chance of finishing second in the group – and advancing to a play-off, Gutman said: “It hurts me that another campaign is over. It is true that our group was always going to be tough, but I believed we could do it and we had some nice moments. We also had some not so nice ones, like tonight.

“As things currently stand, Russia and Portugal will end the group in the first two places, but we will have to play for our pride. This campaign makes me sad. You prepare for months and then it ends like this.”

Having been held to a draw by Azerbaijan for the second time in this qualifying campaign, the team went into the game without seven players who missing through injury, but they still should have had enough to see off their visitors.
Defender Eitan Tibi came closest to opening the scoring for Israel in the 18th minute when he hit the post, before Eran Zahavi spurrned a glorious opportunity just after the restart when he shot straight at Kamran Agayev in the visitors goal.

Azerbaijan took the lead in the 61st minute with what was practically their first attempt on goal. Goalkeeper Dudu Aouate got his hand to Rahid Amirguliyev’s long-range estrike, but couldn’t do enough to prevent it finding the back of the net.Israel did get back on level terms 12 minutes later through Itay Shechter, who spent last season at Swansea, in the 73rd minute, but they never threatened to score another, to give their next match on Tuesday, in Moscow against Russia, any real significance.

Gutman added: “Azerbaijan deserves a lot of credit, but I’m very disappointed, we need to make sure we don’t embarrass ourselves against Russia on Tuesday.”

Group Standings

P W D L F A Diff Points
Portugal 8 5 2 1 16 8 8 17
Russia 7 5 0 2 12 3 9 15
Israel 7 3 3 1 16 9 7 12
Northern Ireland 7 1 3 3 6 11 -5 6
Azerbaijan 8 0 5 3 4 10 -6 5
Luxembourg 7 0 3 4 4 17 -13 4